LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Monorail connects eight major resorts, linking more than 24,000 hotel rooms and about 4.4 million square feet of meeting and convention space.

The initial 4-mile route stops at the following seven stations: MGM Grand; Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas; Flamingo/Caesars Palace; Harrah’s/Imperial Palace; Las Vegas Convention Center; Las Vegas Hilton; and the Sahara. The $650 million transportation system runs along the Las Vegas resort corridor, traveling at a top speed of 50 mph.

Up to nine trains consisting of four cars each run on a single rail that rises 20 feet high in most areas, its highest point reaching 70 feet above the Las Vegas Convention Center pedestrian walkway.

Monorail riders can travel the entire distance of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip in less than 15 minutes in a safe, comfortable and clean environment — without the hassles of traffic or wasted time.

Bombardier Transportation built the Las Vegas Monorail, building onto the existing monorail between the MGM Grand and Bally’s. The long-delayed system opened to the public on July 15, 2004.

The Monorail’s electric trains consistently run at 99 percent operational efficiency, indicating an optimal level of performance from people, processes and technology, systems officials say. Environmentally-conscious visitors who ride the Monorail aid in the annual removal of an estimated 4.4 million automobile trips from southern Nevada’s major roadways, potentially reducing carbon monoxide emissions by 135 tons over the course of a year.

“Las Vegas is one of the world’s most visited cities, and as a transportation provider, we recognize the need for solutions that address conveyance, congestion and pollution,” Ingrid Reisman, vice president of corporate communications for the Las Vegas Monorail Co., said in 2007. “The Monorail provides an ongoing means of promoting a healthy and sustainable planet through its zero-emissions design. It’s our pleasure – and responsibility – to embody Earth Day initiatives for cleaner air.”

As part of Phase 2, the monorail would be extended to McCarran International Airport, a proposal that is rather unpopular among taxi cab drivers. The extension is set to be built using private funds and should be up and running by 2012.

Another extension of the monorail to downtown Las Vegas has also been discussed over the years.